Laying the Foundation for Fat Loss
You will never feel every agonizing tick of the clock quite like you do when you are trying to lose bodyfat. It’s like the world stops turning as you wait for your body to transform. Results never seem to come as quickly as we want them to. Ever.
I have clients that have progressed at lightning speed, yet they still frequently ask how we can speed up the already sped up. I don’t blame them! We live in a time where instant gratification is the name of the game. We want everything faster and quicker, and physique change is no different.
However, obnoxiously enough, changing our body composition is the grand-daddy exception to this now-now-now mentality. We can only push on the gas so hard until things go haywire, ruining our body, our metabolism, and rendering our fat loss completely unsustainable.
Everybody is searching for the magical missing link that will shift fat loss into overdrive and send us careening into Shredsville practically overnight. Pedaling backwards on the elliptical, crazy supplements that nearly send you into cardiac arrest, eating five grapefruits per day, drinking gallons of lemon water… trust me, I’ve heard it all. Sadly, these so-called fat-blasting “secrets” never deliver the results that they tout.
There is no way to skirt around the truth, so I’m going to sock it right to you:
The keys to losing bodyfat (and keeping it off) aren’t glamorous or exciting. Regardless of what that 2:00am informercial tells you, there are no magic beans, nifty workout gizmos, or fat-melting creams you can slather onto yourself to accelerate things.
The truth is actually rather simple:
The foundation of fat loss is comprised of four areas that must be nailed the overwhelming majority of the time.
What are the four areas? I’m glad you asked.
- Stress control
Assuming that your metabolism is functioning the way it should be, and that you don’t have any health problems that you are dealing with, you will need to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose weight.
You should be eating plenty of protein, heaps of vegetables, and then filling in the gaps with dietary fat, fruit, and starch.
Eat whole, nutrient dense foods most of the time.
Limit your alcohol intake.
How do you iron out macros, timing, and the other deets? Simple. Experiment. Make one small change at a time, monitor the results, and tweak things as needed.
The golden rule is to do whatever works for your body and lifestyle.
It doesn’t matter what is working for Cathy at the ‘Y’, or what Timmy told you at the coffee shop.
The right way is always whatever is best for you. Period.
Everybody needs to move their bod in some way on a daily basis. This could be in the form of traditional exercise at the gym, a game of basketball, an outdoor circuit, a rousing round of sex (or two?), or good ol’ fashioned walking. Whatever it is, move your body. Expend some energy. Get your heart rate up a little, or a lot, depending on what you need that day.
I know that there are a bunch of people that are hesitant to embark on their weight-loss journey because they don’t have the time or the means to get to the gym consistently, so they squash the entire idea altogether.
The gym is not the end-all-be-all of fat loss. Far from it. Movement can happen anywhere. Please know that frequent attendance to your local gym is not a prerequisite for results or, more importantly, a healthier body.
Workout hard and get your sweat on a few times a week, and walk on all other days for at least 20 – 30 minutes. If you are blessed to have two healthy legs, you have access to walking. Open your front door, and go. Take your kids. Grab the dog. Yes, it’s chilly right now for many of us, but you can bundle up. No excuses.
The benefits of walking are vast, ranging from basic energy expenditure to reducing cortisol, enhancing recovery, and reducing stress levels, just to name a few. Walk daily.
If only I had a dollar for every person that told me that they don’t need more than six hours of sleep per night. Ironically, it’s these same people that are the ones that tell me about their crazy sugar cravings, afternoon energy slumps, and forgetfulness.
Look, we are all busy. Between job(s), kids, after-school activities, the gym, cooking dinner, and showering, it’s all many people can do to melt into the couch at 10pm for a few hours of television to unwind each night.
Nothing will fire up cravings for carbohydrates and sugar, and hinder your gym performance and recovery, quite like a chronic sleep deficit. A consistent lack of shut-eye is a progress killer, plain and simple. You may be able to get away with it for awhile, but if you notice your results starting to plateau, the first thing I advise clients to do is to take a couple of weeks and focus on getting more high-quality sleep before we change their nutrition or exercise plans. 90% of the time, we see improvement once we prioritize rest.
It’s tough to get into bed at a decent time each night, because it’s tempting to linger on the computer, the phone, or in front of the tube, but you need to give yourself a little talking-to. “Do I want to make tomorrow more difficult on myself than it needs to be?” Of course you don’t. Go to bed. Nothing that the Kardashians are doing is important as your precious restoration time.
Turn off electronics a couple hours before bed, and this includes your friggin’ phone! Dim the lights. Take a bath – aromatherapy? Yes, please! May I suggest lavender? Have sex. Then go to bed. You’ll thank me in the morning when you are bouncing off the walls with energy. Sugar-covered-what? No, thanks.
Decrease Chronic Stress
Of all the things we have discussed so far, this is admittedly the toughest for many of us. Some stress is not only good, but necessary. However, it’s the constant mind-racing, nerve-frazzling, heart-palpitation-having kind of stress that is problematic. Since it’s unlikely that you can eliminate all of the triggers from your life completely, the best thing we can do is slow our roll a bit, and do a few simple things each day that can center us and bring us some peace.
When I’m in the office, I shut my door for about 10 – 20 minutes per day (some days are just five minutes!) and do a quick guided meditation. I lay down on the floor, or kick back in my chair and put my feet on my desk, close my eyes, and breathe. It’s truly that simple.
If you have a monkey mind that keeps wandering on you, there are a few things you can do:
Develop a mantra, which is something you will silently say to yourself over and over again. It can be something as simple as “inhale” (while you inhale, obviously), and “exhale” (you got it – while you exhale). Other ones that I like are “surrender”, “relax”, and “let go”. Use whatever is appropriate for yourself that day. Maybe it’s “patience”, perhaps it’s “melt”. Go with what comes naturally. (“I want to strangle my boss” is probably not a good choice.)
Another idea is to count your breath cycles. Each inhale and exhale is one breath cycle.
If neither of those things suits your fancy, try counting during each inhalation, and then making your exhalation just a touch longer. I like to count to five during the inhale, and to seven during the exhale. Again, do what feels right for you.
Mediation doesn’t have to be sitting cross-legged, with your fingers in a mudra. Just get comfortable, close your eyes, and breathe. You’ll be amazed at what just 5 – 10 minutes per day can do for you.
Slow and steady is admittedly obnoxious as hell, but it is the approach that provides sustainable results. Think about everybody that you know that has suddenly dropped a swift amount of weight in an alarmingly quick time period. I’d bet my bottom dollar that they have gained that weight back, and probably some more. These “Lose weight fast!” scams neglect to tell you that the results that they provide are temporary.
Stay consistent with the four items mentioned above, and be patient. Find peace in the fact that you are doing your best, and these things take time. Find ways to enjoy the process!Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Jen Comas Keck is a nutrition expert and NASM certified trainer. Keck has a very diverse fitness journey, from cardio queen, group fitness instructor to figure competitor. This range of experience allows her to speak on a variety of topics facing people. In addtion to the mergers and acquisitions company Jen owns with her husband, she also operates a successful nutrition coaching business. Website, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter